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Melbourne Suburbs Still Affordable For Low-Income Earners

By Rachel Wallace

Low-income Melburnians can afford to buy a median-priced home in just 13 suburbs, new research shows.

No. 13/38 Corkwood Crescent, Wallan, has an affordable asking price of $350,000-$380,000.

And those with weekly household earnings of $941 or less could only comfortably secure a unit in those markets, with a typical house out of reach in every Melbourne postcode, according to property data firm CoreLogic.

The suburbs were an average 42.9km from the CBD, mostly in the west and southeast.

Units in Melton South — like this one listed for $290,000-$319,000 at 5/63-65 Staughton Street — remain within low-income earners’ reach.

CoreLogic found Melton, Melton South and Junction Village were the most accessible markets for households with incomes in the bottom 25th percentile, with 87.1 per cent, 85.5 per cent and 81.7 per cent of units affordable respectively.

More than 60 per cent of units were within reach in Darley, Lang Lang, Kurunjang and Melton West, and at least 50 per cent in Fingal, Bacchus Marsh, Wallan, Albion, Werribee and Whittlesea.

Tiny northern fringe town Waterford Park offered the highest proportion of affordable houses for low-income earners at 19 per cent, followed by Mambourin in the outer southwest at 15 per cent.

CoreLogic head of residential research Eliza Owen said a 6.3 per cent rise in Melbourne dwelling values in 2021 so far had affordability implications for lower-income buyers trying to crack the market.

“Values have surged to record highs … while income growth has not kept pace,” she said.

The figures were less dire for middle and high-income households.

CoreLogic found the latter, bringing in $2887 or more each week, could comfortably buy 100 per cent of unit stock in 58 Melbourne suburbs, plus any house in 33 postcodes including Tullamarine, Meadow Heights and Jacana — all within 20km of the CBD.

Middle-income households earning $1743 per week could afford 100 per cent of unit stock in 32 suburbs as well as any house in Mambourin, in the outer southeast.

More than 99 per cent of houses were also within reach in Coolaroo and Frankston North, and 98 per cent in Dallas, Waterford Park, Melton South and Kings Park.

Ray White Frankston’s Trent Harrison said Frankston North had long been an “undiscovered gem” as one of the most affordable markets on the cusp of the Mornington Peninsula.

But first-home buyers were catching on and snapping up renovator’s delights they could add value to.

No. 13 Whitewood Street, Frankston North, is on the market for $580,000-$638,000.

“Now’s definitely the time to buy in — it seems like the market is going to keep going up (so) there’s money to be made,” Mr Harrison said.

“Past lockdowns haven’t slowed down the area. If anything, they give buyers an opportunity.”

Simone Christie bought into Frankston North nine years ago because she considered it “seriously undervalued”.

“It was one of very few areas in Melbourne that you could buy a house for about $250,000,” she said.

“And it has good transport, hospitals, a choice of schools and parks, plus nearby we have the beach and lots of restaurants and shops.”

Simone Christie at the property she recently sold in Frankston North, where median-income earners can comfortably buy 99 per cent of houses and high-income, 100 per cent. Picture: Josie Hayden

That foresight paid off when she sold her four-bedroom house for almost $600,000 in May — more than double what she paid for it, despite having only made small improvements such as rendering the facade and installing airconditioning.

Barry Plant Melton partner Ned Nikolic said his suburb’s status as the cheapest in Melbourne made it popular with buyers ranging from first-timers to upsizing families and downsizers.

“People who can’t afford to buy 10 minutes down the road, in the new Rockbank estates for example, come here and save $150,000,” he said.

“You don’t need to leave Melton if you don’t want to now as well — the one small shopping centre has tripled in size, there’s a hospital in the pipeline even though there’s one in Bacchus Marsh, and we have private and public schools.”

Suburbs with highest proportion of homes Melburnians can afford on a:

LOW INCOME ($941 per week)

Melton (unit): 87.1%

Melton South (unit): 85.5%

Junction Village (unit): 81.7%

Darley (unit): 69.4%

Lang Lang (unit): 64.8%

Kurunjang (unit): 61.6%

Melton West (unit) 60.3%

Fingal (unit): 59%

Bacchus Marsh (unit): 56.1%

Wallan (unit): 54%

Albion (unit): 52.5%

Werribee (unit): 52%

Whittlesea (unit): 51%

MIDDLE INCOME ($1743 per week)

-100% of house stock in Mambourin and more than 97% in Coolaroo, Frankston North, Dallas

Waterford Park, Melton South, Kings Park, Melton West, Meadow Heights, Powelltown, Millgrove, Laverton

-100% of unit stock in 32 suburbs

HIGH INCOME ($2887 per week)

-100% of house stock in 33 suburbs

-100% of unit stock in 58 suburbs


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